Ex-Cop Turned Oklahoma Prosecutor Clears Cops who Shot Deaf Man
Oklahoma City cops. Lt. Matthew Lindsey and Sgt. Christopher Barnes claim they didn’t hear neighbors screaming he couldn’t hear.
Neither officers were wearing body cameras.
Oklahoma District Attorney David Prater made the announcement Friday, stating his investigation determined the shooting death of Sanchez on September 19 was justified.
“The shooting was lawful, reasonable, and not excessive,” Prater said after reviewing the evidence.
Sanchez, 35, was tasered before he was fatally shot by Lindsey and Barnes after they claim he moved towards them with a metal pipe on September 19.
Neighbors say Sanchez commonly carried a pipe due to stray dogs in the area, but never used it to threaten anyone.
But his family said he used the pipe as a walking stick.
Officers Lindsey and Barnes responded to a call about a hit-and-run crash around 8:15 p.m. in Sanchez’s neighborhood and encountered him holding the metal pipe.
A witness told Lt. Lindsey the address where the vehicle responsible for the hit-and-run had gone.
Lindsey confronted Sanchez and called for back up.
Sgt. Barnes responded shortly after.
Sanchez, who was not only deaf but also could not speak, was on the porch when Lindsey arrived on the scene.
Captain Bo Matthews stated during a press conference that Lindsay had his taser drawn and Barnes had his gun drawn when Sanchez walked from the porch towards Barnes.
As Sanchez advanced, holding a metal pipe, both Lindsey and Barnes fired about five or six bullets.
Sanchez was hit with a stun gun and shot five times in the upper arm, pelvis and chest, according to an autopsy.
Matthews admitted witnesses were yelling,”he can’t hear you” before the officers fired at Sanchez, but said the officers had tunnel vision after perceiving the metal pipe as a threat to their safety, causing them to fear for their lives.
“In those situations, very volatile situations, you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision,” Matthews told reporters.
“Or you can really lock in to just the person that has the weapon that’d be the threat against you.”
“I don’t know exactly what the officers were thinking at that point.”
According to another neighbor, Julio Rayos, reported Sanchez never spoke and only communicated with hand gestures.
“The guy does movements,” Rayos told The Oklahoman.
“He don’t speak, he don’t hear, mainly it is hand movements. That’s how he communicates.”
“I believe he was frustrated trying to tell them what was going on.”
Some Oklahoma City police wear body cameras.
But despite their rank, neither Lindsey or Barnes were wearing them at the time they shot Sanchez, who had no criminal history.
Internal affairs investigated the shooting as a homicide.
The video below includes statements from neighbors who witnessed shooting.